When Max Holloway leaves the Octagon after Saturday’s UFC Fight Night major tournament, he may well be the loser of 3 instantly and 4 of 5. That can be reasonably a cliff from which one of the crucial recreation’s maximum prestigious careers can be dangling.
Calvin Kattar, in the meantime, is attempting to construct his résumé. He’s gained 4 of 5, albeit towards a lot lesser festival. This is his probability — on community tv — to turn out he is in a position to take your next step in changing into an elite fighter.
It’s a a very powerful bout between ESPN’s No. 2-ranked featherweight in Holloway, a former champion having a look to land any other identify shot, and his sixth-ranked opponent. Holloway was once a slight -160 favourite as of Tuesday morning whilst Kattar was once +140.
ESPN’s Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim read about who has more at stake and what enthusiasts can be expecting once they track into ABC at 12 p.m. ET for the primary card.
Raimondi: This is a smart combat, and it is a pivotal one within the featherweight department. It may also be a identify eliminator. But it is beautiful transparent to me that Kattar is the person who has probably the most at stake.
Holloway is already a made guy. He’s probably the most achieved fighter in UFC featherweight historical past, retaining a bunch of information. Win or lose, Holloway is a well-liked title within the UFC with blue-chip sponsors, and he’s going to nonetheless be a consider both the featherweight or light-weight department for so long as he desires to be.
Kattar, even though, in reality wishes this win to ascertain himself as now not just a official contender, however somebody in whom enthusiasts can get started making an investment. Holloway has had a ton of fights like that, however for Kattar, that is the primary — and possibly the one time he will get one.
Wagenheim: I agree that this can be a giant one for Kattar, however I’d body it as a large alternative with a large upside for him, whilst Holloway is the person who has probably the most to lose.
Yes, Max has been at the height of Mount Featherweight, or even now, coming off two losses in a row, he is nonetheless now not some distance from the highest. That’s as a result of each losses got here towards Alexander Volkanovski, who is the champ. And there’d be no disgrace in losing this one to Kattar, both, however it will be a 3rd instantly defeat and can be coming towards somebody ranked under him. Once a fighter begins shedding the ones kinds of fights, the fall-off will also be steep.
Tony Ferguson‘s fresh fall involves thoughts. He entered 2020 on a 12-fight profitable streak, and plenty of concept he will be the one to dethrone Khabib. Instead, he were given brutalized by way of Justin Gaethje and ruled by way of Charles Oliveira. Both have been ranked less than Ferguson. Now there is hypothesis about whether or not he will ever once more be a contender. Holloway does now not appear in danger of one of these dramatic loose fall, however issues may just slip away for him.
Do you envision that form of drop-off for Kattar?
Raimondi: I believe your issues. But the adaptation here’s that whilst Holloway has already had an excellent run with the featherweight identify, he is nowhere close to the top of the road. He’s nonetheless simply 29 years previous, and each Volkanovski fights, particularly the latest one, may just have long past both means. There will probably be abundant alternatives left for Holloway to mount a comeback.
What I’m announcing is while you have a name like Holloway has constructed, the UFC continues to seek out alternatives so that you can get again on observe. With all recognize to Kattar, he does now not have that degree of clout but. A victory right here would propel him in that route.
That’s why I believe this can be a a lot larger combat for Kattar. I may just envision a state of affairs the place Holloway strikes up if he loses and right away turns into a light-weight contender. We’ve observed it ahead of when former champions leap divisions. And although Holloway stayed at featherweight, as a result of his title worth, he will best be one or two wins clear of any other crack at the identify.
Wagenheim: Max is best 29, true, however glance at all the tread on the ones tires. This will probably be his 28th combat in a professional profession courting again to 2010, and whilst Kattar has been within the recreation for just about as many fights, Holloway is the person who’s been doing it at the absolute best degree reputedly eternally.
I imply, he was once all of 20 years previous when he made his UFC debut — towards a man named Dustin Poirier. A yr and a part later, he was once within the cage with Conor McGregor. Fights like the ones — plus, two with Volkanovski, two with Jose Aldo, and so on. — upload up on a fighter and will have a debilitating impact. Holloway is an previous 29.
Kattar is 32, however he did not even debut within the UFC till he was once 29. He’s the only with time on his facet, win or lose. Which leads me to invite: Who do you suppose will win?
Raimondi: That’s a excellent query, and to be fair, I do not have a cast resolution on that one. I in most cases wait till after the legit weigh-ins to expect fights. In MMA, as we have observed over and over, not anything is ready in stone till they step on the dimensions and the ones weights hit the mark. With that being stated, I will perceive why Holloway is the favourite. He’s a very good striker, offensively and defensively. One may just make the sturdy argument that he were given the simpler of Volkanovski in July on the ft, knocking him down as soon as and rocking him yet again.
Kattar has more energy than Volkanovski and has more of a boxing-oriented putting recreation. He’s bad. I may just see him doing really well early, possibly even placing Holloway at risk. But in a five-round combat, with Holloway’s revel in and skill to come back again in past due rounds with implausible aerobic, I perceive why the having a bet traces are the way in which they’re. I’m positive you can disagree with me on this, too, Mr. Contrarian.
Wagenheim: Wrong once more, Raimondi! I do not disagree with you that this can be a difficult combat to select. And I do not disagree that the having a bet line belongs the place it’s. But in contrast to you, Mr. Wait Until Weigh-ins, I do not want to wait any further to weigh in on this pairing. I’m leaning towards Kattar, and now not simply because if I did not pick out the Methuen child I might be hounded by way of my fellow Massachusetts other people like I used to be choosing the Lakers towards the Celtics. No, I’m taking Kattar as a result of his polished stand-up talents and since that is the largest combat of his existence.
Holloway, on the opposite hand, is coming off 8 instantly UFC identify fights. This is the primary time since 2016 that he will step into the Octagon without a belt on the road. Now, that normally would cause my “there are ranges to this recreation” rule of thumb and put me within the camp of Holloway. But I simply suppose Kattar goes to be sharper, more targeted on this combat quite than the large championship image, and he’s going to upward thrust to the instant.
Raimondi: Don’t get me flawed right here. I’m bullish on Kattar and his staff. The New England Cartel is cooking up one thing beautiful darn excellent to your neck of the woods.
Look at what Rob Font simply did to Marlon Moraes remaining month with a star-making first round-stoppage. Kattar and Font are absolute best buddies and each and every different’s best sparring spouse. I be expecting to be listening to so much more from them and trainer Tyson Chartier in 2021.
But Holloway continues to be elite, somebody who will also be again on the pound-for-pound listing within the close to long run.
Wagenheim: It’s true that in spite of shedding two in a row and 3 of his remaining 4, Holloway continues to be No. 2 in our featherweight scores, forward of the man who is predicted to get the following identify shot, Brian Ortega — which is sensible as a result of Holloway owns a knockout victory over Ortega. It’s all the time a excitement to look at Holloway do his factor. He is likely one of the greats. That’s why I’m calling this the largest combat in Kattar’s profession.
The first time Kattar ventured into this biggest-career-fight territory, in 2019, he misplaced to Zabit Magomedsharipov, a Russian, in a Moscow major tournament. But he is gained two in a row since then, and this time he will be in a position for the instant. And if he wins, he will be on the verge of a brand new best combat ever, one with a championship on the road.